Painted pebbles


Painted pebbles are fun to make and can be used as decoration or labelling for garden crops. They are also an excellent loose part resource to have available for encouraging play with numeracy.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): English, Maths, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Create colourful, decorative stones
  • Count and begin to match quantity to numerals
  • Begin to use vocabulary of adding and subtracting
  • Use objects to represent number bonds
  • Create a loose parts collection


Wash the pebbles and dry them before you begin.

Go on a bug safari, look at growing flowers and pictures in books to get ideas of what to paint on the stones.

Equipment needed

  • A medium sized pebble
  • Pencil
  • Colour permanent pens/ paint for decorations
  • Varnish/ PVA glue and brush

"There were 3 ladybirds, but now I can only see one. How many are hiding?"

Step by step

  1. Use a pencil to draw a design on the pebble.
  2. Colour in the design using paints or permanent pens. Leave to dry thoroughly.
  3. When the paint is dry, take a clean brush and carefully cover the pebble in PVA glue or varnish to make it weatherproof. Leave to dry.
  4. Place your pebbles in the garden, ready to be played with!

Follow up activities

  1. Group some stones and ask children to count how many there are altogether.
  2. Move members of the group, and count again - this will help with number conservation.
  3. Play with number bonds
  4. Make 2 groups of stones and count how many altogether. Match figures to sets and introduce symbols. Move members within the groups, whilst keeping the same total.
  5. Place some members of the set under a leaf and ask children to find out how many are hiding. When children are secure with this learning start to use symbols and figures to make number sentences.

Hints & tips

  • Flat pebbles can be bought from a DIY shop
  • Why not make a set of number pebbles and leave them accessible for children to play with independently and encourage matching numbers to quantities.
  • Paint flat pebbles with blackboard paint, provide chalk and children can experiment with mark making.
  • Make a set of pebble letters

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